When a person sustains an injury due to the negligent actions of another, he or she deserves fair compensation. The injury victim can collect this compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for the accident.
If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, you may wonder how much compensation you can claim — and whether there is a minimum amount you can expect to receive. The definition of fair compensation varies from case to case, and there is no set value that an individual must receive under California law.
What Does a Personal Injury Settlement Pay For?
When you are in a serious accident, you can suffer a wide range of injuries. These may include financial losses, possibly due to medical bills or vehicle repairs, as well as physical and emotional pain. In California, you can collect two types of compensation in a personal injury lawsuit: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages involve the tangible financial losses you develop due to the accident. This may include compensation for all past and future medical expenses, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages.
On the other hand, non-economic damages concern the physical and emotional pain and suffering you develop. Common types of non-economic damages include the following.
- Emotional distress
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depression and anxiety
- Chronic pain and disability
- Loss of quality of life
In certain circumstances, you may also qualify for punitive damages. California courts award punitive damages in cases where the at-fault party acted in malice, oppression or fraud, usually involving intentional harm or extreme recklessness. Not all cases qualify for this type of compensation, so speak to your attorney to determine your eligibility.
Factors That Impact a Personal Injury Settlement’s Value
Since damages are unique to the circumstances of an individual accident, there is no average or minimum value for a personal injury settlement. However, there are certain factors that can influence your future compensation.
- Severe injuries: The more severe your injury, the higher your settlement will typically be. This is because severe injuries require more medical care and longer time off work than minor injuries do. In addition, you may sustain more pain and suffering with a severe injury, leading to higher non-economic damages.
- Permanent disability: If you develop a disability after your accident, you will need compensation to pay for your long-term care costs. Your settlement may be higher to reflect expenses such as live-in caregivers, future medical procedures, and disability accommodations.
- Psychological trauma: Experiencing emotional trauma after an accident can increase your award amount. You may be eligible for higher amounts of pain and suffering damages and you can collect compensation for treatment costs related to your condition, including prescription medication and therapy appointments.
- Aggravating factors: You may be eligible for punitive damages if you can prove that the at-fault party in your claim acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. For example, drinking and driving would likely qualify for punitive damages, leading to a higher payout.
An unexpected accident can have a serious impact on your quality of life. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you pay for necessary medical care, supplement lost income, support ongoing costs, and recover other financial, physical, and emotional losses you sustained.
A personal injury attorney can help you find all pathways to optimal compensation, helping protect your recovery as you move forward. If you have not done so already, contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.